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In August, hackers dumped the personal information of 36 million users of Ashley Madison, the cheaters' website, on the Darknet.

After ISIS claimed responsibility for a shooting outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas in May, the Darknet was singled out for blame. Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI's counter-terrorism division, told the House Homeland Security Committee that encryption tools have given such terrorists "a free zone by which to recruit, radicalize, plot and plan." Without the ability to adequately monitor the terrorists online, Steinbach went on, "we're past going dark in certain instances.

But at the same time, the Darknet, which Tor enables, has become the primary cove for criminals like Ross Ulbricht, imprisoned founder of Silk Road; the hackers behind the recent Ashley Madison attacks; and the international crew busted by the feds in July. But dive below and you'll see the vast expanse of the Deep Web: all the data that search engines can't find, which is much larger than the Surface Web.

As an instrument for both activists and criminals, Tor presents an increasingly difficult problem for law enforcement to solve — exacerbating the hapless game of whack-a-mole facing those who try to bring law to the most lawless part of the Net. This includes anything behind a paywall (like Netflix), a password-protected site (like your e-mail) or a Web page that requires you to do your searching there (like when you're trying to find court records).

But on the Darknet, your location — and the locations of the people overseeing the sites you search — remain hidden.

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